ALA TFoEMP Question 1 – Open Meetings

After much [seemingly “behind the veil” to non-task-force-members] researching and discussions, the ALA Task Force on Electronic Member Participation has developed some questions needing answers.  Question One concerns “Open Meetings.”  See the ALA Council List archive for the full message sent out to Council. (excerpted below)

If you have comments you would like me (as your Councilor at Large / vocal proxy) to make officially (whether on your behalf or in the aggregate) regarding this request for comments, I’ll be watching and participating in the comments below as well as in my various aggregated social media feeds.

So, some history and then the request (note the N.B. below the request) ::

The Open Meetings Policy originated around 1970 because the “library press” (I wonder which ones?) wanted to attend ALA Executive Board meetings.  “Open” and “Closed” are not defined in the policy and are not addressed in any “interpretations.”  No goals and/or reasoning for or against is provided by available historical documentation.  “However, there have always been limitations to the “reach” of the Open Meetings Policy, deriving from physical, logistical, and financial factors.” The Open Meetings policy has never been applied to between-meeting correspondence of any kind which is/was part of “regular work of the association“.

…the Task Force has concluded that expansion of electronic participation in association governance requires not a new policy, but a new Interpretation of the existing policy.

(which, to me, seems appropriate)

…the Task Force is asking for input from Councilors about what they believe the benefits of open meetings to be, what we should hope to achieve by having open meetings, and, if it is impossible at this time to implement “the purest form” of open meetings, what the nature of “open” means in an online environment, and what kinds of access to what kinds of information would be sufficient to satisfy our desire for openness in Association governance.

N.B. these caveats:

Specifically, this request for input is addressing “providing a mechanism for people who are not members of particular governance entities (committees, task forces, boards, etc.) to know what those entities are doing.”

Specifically *not* about electronic participation by members of these entities and *not* about electronic access to “non-meeting activities” of those governance entities.

1 thought on “ALA TFoEMP Question 1 – Open Meetings

  1. I just made space on the Improve ALA Wiki for a collaborative effort at drafting a more modern interpretation of the Open Meetings Policy (ALA Policy Manual: Policy 7.4.4 on page 10 of 28 & copied below)

    How would you reinterpret the following in a social media milieu?

    “7.4.4 Open Meetings: All meetings of the American Library Association and its units are open to all members and to members of the press. Registration requirements apply. Closed meetings may be held only for the discussion of matters affecting the privacy of individuals or institutions. (See also ‘‘Current Reference File’’: Interpretive Statement on Open Meetings Policy.)”

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